A severe winter storm brought snow and high winds into Nebraska on Sunday, making travel difficult, at times dangerous.
The Nebraska State Patrol says troopers responded to nearly 100 weather-related incidents on Sunday, including 20 crashes. Troopers came to the assistance of about 70 motorists.
Two major accidents on both ends of the state sent drivers and passengers to the hospital.
It could have been worse.
Nebraska State Patrol spokesman Cody Thomas says it appeared evident travelers had been paying attention to the weather at the end of a long Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
“We didn’t see near the traffic volume on the interstate or state highways that we would normally see on that particular Sunday and I think that is probably because people did have a plan. A lot of people made their return trip home Saturday rather than on Sunday,” Thomas tells Nebraska Radio Network.
An early Sunday morning crash near Waverly shut down the interstate between Lincoln and Omaha for about two-and-a-half hours. A westbound semi tractor-trailer jackknifed on I-80. A short time later, another semi lost control and struck the trailer of the jackknifed truck. A trooper had to pull the driver of the second truck from his cab. Medical assistance was rendered at the scene, then the truck driver was taken to a Lincoln hospital.
Later that afternoon, a sport utility vehicle traveling north on Highway 71 between Scottsbluff and I-80 drove off the road, soled through a snow-packed median and the southbound lanes before coming to rest on its wheels in the southbound lanes. Responders took all four in the SUV to a hospital for treatment or observance while the driver was taken by life-flight to another hospital to be treated for more serious injuries.
Thomas says Department of Transportation road crews worked ahead of the storm, but a wet snow made roads slick while strong winds reduced visibility.
“So, it was probably more of a combination of the weather happening in those moments where we did have some slick conditions, but also had low visibility so it was difficult to see just what was ahead of you,” according to Thomas.
NSP reports troopers removed 16 impaired drivers and issued more than 500 speeding tickets during its Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign over the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend.